A grassroots campaign launched to raise money for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) after President Bush cut funding to the organization hit the $1 million mark last week. The campaign, 34 Million Friends, was launched by Jane Roberts of California and Lois Abraham of New Mexico, two activists who joined forces to make up for the loss of $34 million appropriated by Congress for the UNFPA but blocked by Bush last July. Through emails, a letters, and phone calls, the two called for individual donations of at least $1 to the UN organization, which provides women's and children's health care services in 141 low-income countries. So far, 100,000 people have sent in contributions ranging from $1 to $25,000, according to Reuters. At the press conference announcing the $1 million mark, Ted Turner's UN Foundation pledged $250,000 in matching funds, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Right now, the campaign is a wonderful way for Americans to reach out to women worldwide," said Roberts in an interview with the Feminist Majority Foundation. "We need to tell the world that our government, and not the American people, made [the] choice [to cut funding]. The American people support UNFPA." In addition to raising money, Roberts and Abraham are hoping to make visible the US constituency that supports reproductive rights and international family planning. "Politicians can count. We have had 100,000 people take the time to hunt up an envelope, find a stamp, and stick a dollar bill in the envelope. That's a significant response," Abraham told the Chicago Tribune.
Bush withheld the $34 million in funding based on allegations by the right-wing Population Research Institute that UNFPA programs in China support coercive family planning policies. Bush sent a fact-finding team to China that found no evidence that the UN organization "has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China." The US contribution to the UNFPA makes up 13 percent of the total funding for its international family planning programs - enabling UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death.
Half of the first million raised will prevent and treat obstetric fistula, a condition that mainly affects young women. The condition most often occurs during long labors, often resulting in a miscarriage and, without proper treatment, loss of control of the bowels and the bladder. The operation to treat the condition costs approximately $350, which is often out of reach for the women affected.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .